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Austen_Forrester comments on $500 prize for anybody who can change our current top choice of intervention - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: pasha 11 May 2016 10:43:01PM 1 point [-]

I am wondering if there has been any research into reducing suicide rates. These may include:

  1. Measuring effectiveness of current suicide hotlines
  2. Training suicide hotline volunteers in more effective forms of communication
  3. Decreasing the over-head of calling a hotline
  4. (long-term) Research into co-relations with suicide and early warning signs.
Comment author: Austen_Forrester 18 July 2016 04:51:49PM 1 point [-]

Hi pasha,

Suicide prevention is an extremely neglected area and I believe has many high impact opportunities that are not yet taken up. 85% of suicides are in the developing world, little of which are covered by helplines, so I would think proliferating helplines would be high impact, especially when you factor in the low opportunity cost of this volunteer-based activity. India, in particular, is desperate for more helplines. One way of reducing cost is by having calls to the helpline automatically directed to volunteers' phones, so that they don't need to have a call centre.

Means restriction has by far the best evidence behind it for reducing suicide rates, particularly prohibition of highly toxic pesticides (currently the second most common means of suicide). Pesticide bans have decreased Sri Lanka's suicide rate by three quarters and China's suicide rate has decreased by more than half due to reduced pesticide access from bans and urbanization. My NGO, the Global Initiative for Pesticide Poisoning Prevention is currently being formed to advocate for more bans of highly poisonous pesticides around the world. Our website should be live in a few weeks at www.pesticidepoisoning.org.

Comment author: e19brendan 19 July 2016 01:34:56PM *  0 points [-]

Pasha & Austen, fantastic suggestions. Pasha, I'd be happy to do some research on effectiveness of hotlines or brainstorm proxies with you. Austen, I'm really excited to hear more about what you're doing with PPP. I'm quite interested in suicide prevention and I think the neglectedness and avertable suffering and death make it an essential focus for our time and effort. I think that most in the EA community (as well as global health more broadly) question tractability, which is all the more reasons to demonstrate pathways to effective reduction in suicide. I would love to hear more about what you're doing, and potentially get involved. I'm hoping to get together folks in EA who are interested in global mental health. Please let me know if you'd be willing to chat!